Sand and more sand awaits the riders in the Middle East
The 2020 Dakar Rally route has 5,000 km of special stages. With the road covered in sand, navigation will be a challenge for the riders. Here is the route for the 2020 Dakar Rally.
The 2020 Dakar Rally will set off in Saudi Arabia for the first time. A total of 7,500 km which 5,000 km are special stages represent the course. To make things more challenging, 75% of the rally will be on all types of sand.
The rally takes place between January 5-17 and includes 12 stages with five special stages over 450 km. Canyons, dunes, mountains, wadis are just a few landscape details that await the riders.
2020 Dakar Rally – The route
On January 5th, the riders will start from Jeddah with the finish line set 752 km away in Al Wajh. Jeddah is the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia with a population of 3.5 million people and is set to become the city with the tallest tower in the world. The opening stage will be a variety of fast portions of track through winding dunes and stones. The dunes are a test for the rider’s navigation skills taking into count they are 250 metres high.
The second stage is made up of tracks and the new landmarks will put the rider’s navigation skills to the test. Heading to stage three, in Neom, the route is set through canyons and mountains while the track is all covered with sand. This stage has Dakar’s highest point, at an altitude of 1,400 metres, and takes competitors to the border with Jordan.
The next stage, from Neom to Al-`Ula, is a mixture of sandy stretches and gravel sections, mostly on tracks which will take the riders close to Nabatean temples.
The stage to Ha'il is full of big rocks, very large sandy hills and descents with desert grass paths. Moving on to stage six, the riders will have a special stage entirely on off-road and covered 100% in the sand. Their effort will be rewarded with a rest day in Riyadh before starting stage seven to reach Wadi Al Dawasir after 741 km. The special stage is the longest in the 2020 Dakar Rally – 546 km of scattered dunes, small dune fields a few kilometres long and off-road tracks with sections of crossings.
Stage Eight will be held in Wadi Al Dawasir taking the riders south. The landscape is full of mountain landscapes, canyons and a contrast of black stones on the white sand. Speed is the key on this stage as competitors will have a straight line of 40 km through dunes.
Heading to Haradh on stage nine, the bikes will face the hard ground and several rough sections to reach the oil and agriculture landscape built around Haradh.
Stage ten includes another long special stage of 534 km. This time, the last 30 km go through dunes while night falls quickly. Reaching the finish line of the stage, riders are allowed assistance between them.
The finest dunes in Saudi Arabia begin on Stage 11, from Shubaytah to Haradh, and last for 80 km. the riders will follow the path of the first black gold prospectors who explored the region.
Stege 12 is the last stage with the finish line set at Qiddiya. A total of 447 km will conclude the 7,500 km with 5,000 km of special stages that create the 2020 Dakar Rally. On this stage, there is a special section of 20 km with no impact on the general classification where the riders can enjoy the landscape before reaching the finish line.
The 2020 Dakar Rally has interesting details. Close to the border with Jordan, there is Jabal el Lawz — the Mountain of Almonds — peaking at over 2,500 metres above sea level. The symbols in the roadbook boxes are in colour helping amateur drivers and reducing the navigation preparations for the next stage. Furthermore, for at least four stages, the roadbook is delivered to the competitors in the morning at the start of the stage to create equal chances between riders.
Stop points are required to create safety for competitors on bikes and quads. Mechanical repairs will go down to ten minutes upon arrival at the Neom bivouac. Assistance is only authorised between competitors and will be organised in Shubaytah.
Between the favourites is 2019 Dakar Rally winner Toby Price for the KTM Factory Racing Team alongside his teammates Sam Sunderland (2017 Dakar Rally winner) and Matthias Walkner (2018 Dakar Rally winner).
STAGE DATE – START & FINISH DISTANCE
1. Sunday, January 5 – Jeddah > Al Wajh, 752 km – 319 km
2. Monday, January 6 – Al Wajh > Neom, 401 km – 367 km
3. Tuesday, January 7 – Neom > Neom, 489 km – 404 km
4. Wednesday, January 8 – Neom > Al-`Ula, 676 km – 453 km
5. Thursday, January 9 – Al-`Ula > Ha'il, 563 km – 353 km
6. Friday, January 10 – Ha'il > Riyadh, 830 km – 478 km
Rest day – Saturday, January 11 – Riyadh
7. Sunday, January 12 – Riyadh > Wadi Al Dawasir, 741 km – 546 km
8. Monday, January 13 – Wadi Al Dawasir > Wadi Al Dawasir, 713 km – 474 km
9. Tuesday, January 14 – Wadi Al Dawasir > Haradh, 891 km – 415 km
10. Wednesday, January 15 – Haradh > Shubaytah, 608 km – 534 km
11. Thursday, January 16 – Shubaytah > Haradh, 744 km – 379 km
12. Friday, January 17 – Haradh > Qiddiya, 447 km – 374 km